These things will they do unto you, because they have not
known the Father, nor me.
Christ tells what moves those who oppose the gospel to such
hatred and persecution of Christians as to excommunicate them
and even attempt to kill them. It is because they preach concerning
Christ, whom they themselves do not know. That they
do not know Christ is true without a doubt. Their own deeds
prove it. They are blind and without the true knowledge of
God and of Christ, opposing God and his Son with their acts
of ban and murder under the very appearance and with the
boast of thereby serving God. But Christ strengthens and comforts
his own people that they fear not harsh judgment, nor are
intimidated from preaching and confession, but say to their adversaries:
"We must obey God rather than man."
Here Christ also fixes the standard of judgment and points
out the difference between the true and the false Church. The
Church is not to be judged by name and external appearance.
Human reason cannot furnish the necessary qualifications for
the true Church. The actual test is in ascertaining who have
the real knowledge of Christ and who have not. What does it
mean to know Christ and the Father? The pope and his followers boast of
such a knowledge, as the Jews boasted of being able to recognize
the Messiah. But an intellectual knowledge of God is not sufficient.
He who wishes to know God truly must know him in
the Word and promises which the Scriptures set forth about
Christ, that Christ is the Son of God, sent by the Father as a
sacrifice and ransom for the sins of the world; that he might
appease the wrath of God and effect reconciliation for us, redeeming
us from sin and death and securing for us righteousness
and everlasting life. Whenever, therefore, we have the
knowledge of Christ, we must cease boasting and trusting in
self-righteousness and in works. If Christ alone shall bear my
sins I cannot at the same time atone for them by my own works
and by my own pretended worthiness. This teaching points out
the true Christ and the real knowledge of him. He who thus
knows Christ, knows the Father also. This knowledge is the
article of faith by which we become Christians, and is the foundation
of our salvation.